Who is responsible for what after a car accident?
If you were seriously injured in a car accident due to no fault of your own, it is natural to expect to be made “whole.” The car accident injury was not your fault. You were traveling lawfully in your lane of travel when someone else failed to yield the right of way, or ran a stop sign, or rear-ended your vehicle from behind.
Whatever the liability scenario, the bottom line is that you would have made it to your destination and gone about your day had the other driver simply followed the rules of the road. This begs the question: who is responsible for what following a car accident?
While the other driver, who is at fault for causing the collision, may be legally responsible, in most cases, you will not deal directly with that person in the immediate aftermath of your car crash. In most cases, you will deal with car insurance companies.
If you are seriously injured in a car crash, it is likely the car you were driving did not escape unscathed. If your vehicle did sustain property damage, you will probably want to fix the damage, or, assuming the cost of repair exceeds the value of the vehicle, replace the vehicle.
How you go about doing this will generally depend on whether you have collision coverage on your car insurance policy. If you do have collision coverage, you can make a claim directly with your car insurance company. You may have to pay a deductible, but you can always request that the deductible be reimbursed or waived because the car crash was not your fault. Some car insurance companies are open to this. If you do not have collision coverage, you will have to make a claim with the at-fault motorist’s car insurance company.
The at-fault motorist is responsible for the damage but, in exchange for premium payments, he/she will be “indemnified” and thus protected to some extent by the car insurance company.
Lost wages and medical expenses
In most cases, at least some of your lost wages and medical expenses will be paid by the no-fault car insurance company, which is not necessarily the at-fault driver’s car insurance company. The no-fault car insurance carrier will provide at least $50,000 in coverage for lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs, subject to certain restrictions. Unless the no-fault car insurance policy includes Additional Personal Injury Protection (APIP) or Optional Basic Economic Loss (OBEL) coverage, anything in excess of that amount must be paid by the at-fault driver’s car insurance company.
Pain and suffering
Pain and suffering are the physical and emotional toll car accident injuries have on your life. Usually, the at-fault motorist’s car insurance company will be responsible for compensating you for pain and suffering, provided you have sustained a “serious injury” as defined in Article 51 of the NY Insurance Law. If another person or entity was also responsible for your car accident injuries, that person or entity could also be obligated to pay.
A car accident attorney can help you identify each and every potentially responsible party so you can bring claims against them. In the event that the at-fault parties do not have car insurance or do not have sufficient insurance, you may be able to turn to your own car insurance company so you can make an uninsured motorist (UM) or supplementary underinsured motorist (SUM) claim.
Hurt in a Car? Call William Mattar.
In sum, when you sustain personal injuries in a car accident it can sometimes be difficult to identify who is responsible for what. A personal injury attorney can help you through this process, and make sure all of the right parties and car insurance companies have notice of a potential claim. Our car accident lawyers at William Mattar law offices are available to help. Call us anytime for a free consultation at (844) 444-4444.